Five reasons why Bennett could help the Patriots right away


Five reasons why Bennett could help the Patriots right away

DENVER -- If it's physically possible for Martellus Bennett to use his injured shoulder, the Patriots could use him as early as Sunday night against the Broncos.

That may seem like asking a lot of the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder. He was recently making plans to have his shoulder surgically prepared. Then he was waived. Then he ended up in New England, where he quickly went from wanting to go under the knife to "[bleep] it."

According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, there's a "good chance" Bennett will play tonight:

Just in order to practice on Friday, Bennett would have had to be given the OK from the Patriots medical staff. He's listed as questionable to go against Denver.

But if this is a pain management issue for Bennett, it's plausible he'll be in a huddle with Tom Brady tonight. Bennett played through myriad injuries for the Patriots in 2016 so there's little reason to think that he won't try to do so again this season. Judging by his recent statements via Instagram story, he seems willing. 

Here are five quick-hitting reasons why if Bennett can play, he should . . . 

* He knows the offense. Normally when it comes to these types of midseason acquisitions, the barrier to playing time is one's understanding of the system. But that's not a barrier that should require all that much effort to surpass for Bennett. He was, after all, running the Patriots offense in February. Does that mean the entirety of the Patriots playbook will be opened up for him? That might be a bit much. The offense has some new pieces and so certain situations could take some getting used to. But would it be surprising to see Bennett used to help chip in pass-protection, or in goal line or red zone packages? Of his seven touchdown grabs last season, all but one came inside the red zone, and four came from inside the 10-yard line. If given a set number of plays to run in those spots, Bennett shouldn't have much trouble understanding his responsibilities. 

* He could help the Patriots solve some of their recent red-zone woes. The Patriots have just 17 touchdowns in 34 red zone trips this season, and their work inside the 20 was highlighted by both Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady as an area they hoped to improve upon during the bye. With Chris Hogan (shoulder) out, having someone with Bennett's frame should only improve their efficiency deep in opponents' territory. On multiple occasions last season, Brady was willing to throw passes Bennett's way even when he was well-covered. A five-yard touchdown last season against the Browns and a 19-yard score against the Ravens were both good examples of defenders blanketing Bennett but unable to defeat his size. 

* He poses a threat that other Patriots tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski don't. If Bennett is on the field against the Broncos, their defense will at least have to respect his dual-threat ability as a receiver and blocker. At the moment, neither Dwayne Allen nor Jacob Hollister would put the same kind of scare into Vance Joseph's defense. Allen hasn't been targeted since Week 4, and he does not have a catch on the season. Hollister has given the Patriots more than Allen as a receiver, but he's not quite the same threat to move people in the running game. Bennett, at his best, can be both, which would stress an opponent more than Bill Belichick's other non-Gronkowski options at the same spot. 

* He's immediately their best Gronkowski fill-in. One of the benefits to having Bennett on the roster isn't just that he makes a formidable duo with Gronkowski. It's that if something should happen to Gronkowski, Bennett gives the team a reasonable replacement. That's exactly what he did last season when Gronkowski suffered a season-ending back injury. Before Bennett's arrival, if Gronkowski had gone down, then the Patriots offense would have likely been significantly reduced. Now that Bennett is back in the fold, even if the team is forced to go without Gronkowski for any extended period of time, the team will still theoretically have many of the same looks available to them. If the options at tight end were limited to Allen and Hollister, that probably wouldn't be the case. 

* The Broncos are one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to defending tight ends. For as good as Denver has been this season defensively -- last week's letdown against the Eagles notwithstanding -- they've struggled against opposing tight ends all season. Accoding to Football Outsiders, they're 25th in the NFL at defending tight ends, allowing almost 76 yards per game on almost eight targets. That should mean a big night for Gronkowski, of course, but it also might make Sunday the perfect time to reintroduce Bennett to the rotation.


What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively


Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

The Patriots have acquired wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders, NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry confirms.

Pardon My Take, a podcast by Barstool Sports, first reported the news.

Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reports the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to Oakland and received a Raiders' sixth-rounder along with Patterson.

More to come...